Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Vincent Lam

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures follows the professional and personal journeys of medical students (later young doctors), as they navigate the challenges of practising medicine while coming to terms with their own shortcomings and vulnerabilities. It's a world that Lam himself was immersed in when he started writing the book, a year after finishing his residency.

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize.




Desperate stragglers arrived late for the molecular biology final examination, their feet wet from tramping through snowbanks and their faces damp from running. Some still wore coats, and rummaged in the pockets for pens. Entering the exam hall, a borrowed gymnasium, from the whipping chaos of the snowstorm was to be faced with a void. Eyeglasses fogged, xenon lamps burned their blue-tinged light, and the air was calm with its perpetual fragrance of old paint. The lamps buzzed, and their constant static was like a sheet pulled out from under the snowstorm, though low enough that the noise vanished quickly. Proctors led latecomers to vacant seats among the hundreds of desks, each evenly spaced at the University of Ottawa's minimum requisite distance.

The invigilators allowed them to sit the exam but, toward the end of the allotted period, ignored their pleas for extra time on account of the storm. Ming, who had finished early, centered her closed exam booklet in front of her. Fitzgerald was still hunched over his paper. She didn't want to wait outside for him, preferring it to be very coincidental that she would leave the room at the same time he did. Hopefully he would suggest they go for lunch together. If he did not ask, she would be forced to, perhaps using a little joke. Ming tended to stumble over humor. She could ask what he planned to do this afternoon--was that the kind of thing people said? On scrap paper, she wrote several possible ways to phrase the question, and in doing so almost failed to notice when Fitzgerald stood up, handed in his exam, and left the room. She expected to rush after him, but he stood outside the exam hall.

From Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam © 2006. Published by Doubleday Canada.